Discerning History ~ Causes of the Civil War

The ability to discern the world around us – what we read, watch, see and learn – is a crucial skill that we must build and encourage in our children. As we guide them in their studies of history, science and literature, we have the perfect opportunities to take the information before us and compare it against Scripture and truth. We see over and over again how man can twist and turn facts and events to suit various agendas and goals.

Discerning History produces curriculum consisting of articles, videos, and study guides that dive into history not only to look at the people and events but discover the motivation behind them. As you are discerning history, the impact that history has on us today is clearly revealed.

When studying the 1800s and American History, the Civil War becomes a central and driving theme. What could cause a nation to turn against each other? What would drive brother against brother? What would incite such bloodshed? Many books will suggest that it was the issue of slavery that drove the nation to war. On the other side, we hear states’ rights proclaimed as the foundational issue. Who is right?

Discerning History: Causes of the Civil War takes you beyond these base suggestions of war and helps you to look beneath the surface of history and see the hearts of men displayed before a Biblical backdrop.

Created to be used as a high school to adult curriculum, Causes of the Civil War looks at seven causes that led to the War Between the States. Seven videos, each approximately an hour in length, cover: Religion, Slavery, John Brown, Secession, Fort Sumter, State’s Rights, and Economics. As you view the videos, Dan Horn takes you to historically significant sites, interviews historians about key people and events, utilizes historical documents to reveal more aspects of history ever covered in a textbook.

Instead of presenting a broad picture of the Civil War, Discerning History places it behind a biblical worldview lens and challenges you to think beyond the accepted views of this critical time in history. Did the states’ have the right to secede? Was John Brown a hero or a man craving power? Is Uncle Tom’s Cabin an accurate portrayal of this time period? What was the real motivation of the Northern states: abolish slavery or protect their economic health? Did the Southern states support slave trade?

While the Causes of the Civil War is for high school and up, our whole family watched the entire series together. Even our younger children were engaged in this presentation. Many discussions have been sparked from watching this series and we have been challenged. Our oldest children are now going back through the videos and study guide at a slower pace. I have no doubt that there are some who will walk away from Causes of the Civil War and not be challenged but upset, enraged and furious. It is not for the faint of heart. Even if you do not agree with the information presented, it will cause you to think and question. The key is to test everything with a biblical worldview.

To help with the discussions, ideas and questions that this series will bring to the table, Discerning History has an accompanying Causes of the Civil War Study Guide that provides a well rounded curriculum. Beginning with a Why Study History and How to Use This Book section, the study guide then covers each video topic in depth.

The study guide doesn’t repeat in print form the content of the videos. The guide provides original source documents and study questions. Studying original source documents is vital; the use of source documents allows you to view history without someone’s perspective put on it. The study questions are not simple yes or no questions. Their purpose is to drive you to think about God’s hand through history.

After viewing the video, you should read the corresponding chapter of the study guide. For example, the chapter on religion will discuss Arminianism and Calvinism, the Great Awakening, Finney and Emerson. Examples of study questions are: Explain the five points of Arminianism and Calvinism in your own words and what aspects of Finney’s techniques are still used today in churches. For those wishing to go even deeper, other resources are given. The study guide is over 240 pages and ends with a Final Exam. This is not your 20 questions, multiple choice test. With 100 questions, after completing the final exam, you will have an amazing grasp of the Causes of the Civil War.

Discerning History: Causes of the Civil War can be purchased for $108 at Discerning History.com. Segments of the videos and excerpts from the study guide can be viewed online as well.

Discerning History also has a blog that provides excellent articles and videos to enhance your history studies or discussion around the dinner table. Want to keep up with Discerning History? You can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Discerning History ~ Causes of the Civil War

  1. This sounds an amazing resource. The American Civil War is an area where I tend to feel rather vague! Civil wars always seem particularly complex. Treatment of the English Civil War often portrays the Puritans in an unfavourable light and the restoration of Charles II as a “good thing”. For dissenters, the reigns of Charles II and James II was a time of persecution.

  2. I’ve pinned this for later on this year. We are studying Am History this year, and this will come in handy when we get to the Civil War time period.

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